Footballer falls foul of the rules as he shows his political colours

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The Independent Online
Robbie Fowler could be in trouble with the football authorities after he became the strikers' striker with a show of solidarity for 500 sacked Liverpool dockers during a European Cup-Winners' Cup match on Thursday.

Fowler, 21, reported to have recently signed a new contract worth pounds 20,000 per week, lifted his Liverpool shirt after scoring his second goal in the 3-0 victory against Norwegian team Brann Bergen, to reveal a T-Shirt underneath which read: "500 Liverpool dockers sacked since 1995." The slogan refers to dock workers sacked in industrial disputes by the Mersey Ports and Harbours Authority.

Rules laid down by Uefa, the sport's governing body in Europe, prohibit players from wearing political slogans or logos and a spokeswoman said yesterday: "We are waiting on the reports from the match officials, and then the matter will be discussed on Tuesday to see if there will be any further action."

In Liverpool yesterday, Fowler and team-mate Steve McManaman, who provided the shirt, were being hailed as heroes by dock workers.

Bobby Morton, a spokesman for Merseyside Port shop stewards, said: "Our reaction to Robbie Fowler's display was one of delight as we've suffered an effective media blackout on this issue, and now it's in the news."

He added: "Robbie Fowler and Steve McManaman are both local lads, they both come from working class families, and we're glad of their support."

Mr Morton also said Fowler and McManaman had made financial donations to the sacked workers' hardship fund.

However, Fowler's employers took a dim view of politics on the pitch. "We will be pointing out to all our players that comments on matters outside of football are not acceptable on the field of play," a statement by Liverpool Football Club said. "While players are free to have their own opinions, Uefa rules discourage any show of support during matches."

There is little precedent in such cases, although the Swiss national side were cautioned by Uefa in 1995 after wearing a small flag on their kits saying "Stop Jacques Chirac", in protest at France's policy on the testing of nuclear weapons. No fine or further disciplinary action was taken.

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